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Video Game / Morpheus

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This game, released in 1998 for PC, is a first-person adventure game similar to Myst, with a point and click interface. However, the player may also pan around a location by clicking and dragging the mouse. Clicking the mouse to go in a certain direction results in a transition video showing the player's movement.

Initially released as a 3-CD game, the remnants of the development team have since rereleased it as a free web-based port.

The year is 1928, and fish oil magnate and member of the Explorers' Club, Commander Theodore Holmes is attempting to travel across the North Pole in a hot air balloon. As he is making preparations, a man suffering from the climate stumbles in and mutters many incoherent words, he mentions a luxury liner called the Herculania and that the people on it need help. Intrigued by this, he proceeds in the direction of the liner...and disappears. In 1952, Matthew Holmes has embarked upon a quest to find his father and gain some closure. Unfortunately, he has lost his way and is separated from the rest of his party in a blizzard. He has begun to lose control of his understanding between dreams and reality and is about to succumb to the weather when he suddenly discovers the ship that his father was searching for. Could this ship hold the answers to his disappearance?

Morpheus contains examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: After everything went awry, Herculania's crew took two of its six lifeboats before it ran aground, while J.C. Pharris set out on the Greenland tundra to find your father's crew, leaving a message for potential rescuers. The ship itself wasn't damaged, just surrounded by tons of ice after nearly 30 years.
  • Apocalyptic Log: All over the place. The game even outright starts with the protagonist recording one.
    July 15th, 1952. The Arctic twilight; A season between light and dark, waking and sleeping, life and death. Matthew Holmes records his final words.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Belle Swan's dream world, based on the fact that she's an exotic dancer. However, during her first trial with the Neurogaphicon, she noticed that she wasn't able to wake herself up.
  • Arc Words: "Dreams of the Dead".
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Claire, especially not when having been preserved in the healing Neurographicon for over 20 years.
  • Beautiful Void: Played with. Herculania's Arctic location justifies this trope, but the various dream worlds the ship's passengers are having, are also strangely devoid of life.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Jan's family is this. His mother Belle, and supposed father Leo cared only for their own selfish interests, leaving Jan to be bullied by his caretaker and roommate at the Goodman Home for Boys. Even Claire Moon, one of the few nicest members, had to cope with both polio and Belle's overbearing personality. Because of all this, Jan decided to use them as fuel for his machine, to heal Claire's disease in turn.
  • Bookcase Passage: In Leo's dream world, a fireplace in the pub rotates upon completing a beer tap puzzle, uncovering a secret passage leading to an adjacent building.
  • Body Horror: Reading John Mahlerbe's journal reveals that Jan's hideous deformities stem from the various herbal treatments he gave Jan while in the Goodman Home for Boys, many of them causing great pain as a side effect. To make things worse, John himself admits he really didn't know the pharmacology of what he was administering. And yet his ethics were still employed on Herculania.
  • Book Ends: The game's intro begins with a woman, presumably Claire Moon, who says, "We thought you'd never find us", then ends with what could be the same person, except dressed in a coat, saying, "We thought we'd never find you." It's implied that this was the result of Matthew finally rescuing Claire from the Neurographicon, but we never directly see it actually taking place.
  • Braving the Blizzard: Matthew Holmes ends up doing this in the introduction while trying to find his father, knowing he might die from hypothermia soon. Then the storm lets up, and Herculania finally appears.
  • But Thou Must!: Invoked by Matthew before he first uses the Neurographicon.
    Matthew: This is a gateway to other worlds. If I don't get in, I'll never know the full story.
  • Circus of Fear: Billy's dream world, given the unsettling music and dark sky.
  • Condensation Clue: Turning on the ship's sauna reveals a bible verse drawn on the glass door, which is also the code for Grace Thermon's room.
  • Distress Call: Herculania has a distress canister intended for rescuers to find, which strangely wasn't launched before it ran aground. Matthew can retrieve this canister for clues on how to get into the ship.
  • Dream Land: What you enter when using the Neurographicon, using the passengers' blood serums to do so.
  • Driven to Suicide: John Mahlerbe hung himself from one of the ship's cranes, in despair from the ramifications behind helping Jan.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The intro gives away what all of Jan's family members were like when they were young, even if you don't know who they are yet. You can also rewatch each person's scene in the Neurographicon's control room.
  • Everyone Is Related: Jan hand-picked his passengers, all of them members or friends of his family. Them meeting each other was a less than ideal experience.
  • First-Person Ghost: Matthew Holmes appears in person during the introductory cutscene, just barely holding together from the arctic cold. When the gameplay kicks in, he still speaks on occasion, but we never see his body.
  • Full Motion Video: Similar to The 7th Guest, the game's cast were filmed against bluescreen backdrops.
  • Gainax Ending: It's never made clear if Claire Moon was rescued or not, or even if the game's events were real, as all we get is a cutscene of the Neurographicon disappearing bit by bit, followed by the entire ship morphing into a bunch of icebergs in a similar vein to the people who caught up with death in their pods, cutting to a helicopter arriving. The fact that Matthew's Arctic exposure at the beginning left him mentally addled doesn't help.
  • Ghost Ship: And there are actual ghosts on board.
  • Goodies in the Toilets: The key to Billy Mexler's locker in the ship's mud room turns up in a toilet...after you see him throwing up into it.
  • Happy Harlequin Hat: Part of Billy's jester costume during the masked ball.
  • How We Got Here: A set of kinetoscopes in the ship's lobby describe Herculania, its passengers, the Neurographicon, and its inspiration. There's also a movie theater with a short newsreel from the time the ship set sail, including mention of your father's expedition to cross the North Pole by hot-air balloon.
  • Immortality Inducer: The ultimate purpose of the Neurographicon, to not only heal serious injuries, but outright extend life.
  • Jump Scare: When opening part of the ship's freight hatch causes you to slip, fall inside, and land right on top of Mahlerbe's corpse.
  • Kick the Dog: Leo does a literal example of this by coaxing Belle's dog into jumping overboard, all because it wouldn't stop biting his leg.
  • Leitmotif: Each guest's stateroom has music that pertains to their respective dream worlds.
  • Masquerade Ball: The ship's guests had one, where Belle Swan was to dance to Salome's "Seven Veils". Things went well up until Claire's polio treatment failed, and Jan's malformations returned. J.C. Pharris had to abruptly end the show because of this.
  • Melting-Film Effect: Seen when the newsreel projector stops working, and in some of the stranger cutscenes.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dr. Mahlerbe says this word for word when he realized the ramifications of his helping Jan. Even before that, he was still reluctant to help out with Jan's plan.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: Like in Penumbra, the game takes place in Northern Greenland, as Jan had hijacked the ship into going there when J.C. Pharris had tried to turn it towards New York instead.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Neurographicon, as a "conduit between life and death", gets its energy literally from death itself. With the machine's operator and a test subject placed in healing pods, and volunteers held in a death-like dreaming trance via special serums derived from their blood, this energy can then be used to potentially heal the operator and test subject from serious ailments. What's more, said volunteers can even be revived from this trance after the procedure, saving them from death.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Jan, frustrated at his deformed face and Claire's polio, does this to his cabin's mirror, so much so that the impact from his ghostly self shatters it in the real world.
  • Reunion Revenge: It's implied that this was Jan's true reason for inviting his family to the ship.
  • The Reveal: Entering your own dream world at the end of the game reveals your father's body frozen in an ice cave. His journal explains that after finding J.C. Pharris and embarking to find Herculania, a blizzard forced him into the cave, which collapsed and trapped him inside, where he eventually died of frostbite.
  • The Roaring '20s: The events on the ship happened in late 1928, though the game is set over 20 years later.
  • Rule of Three: Each dream world consists of 3 puzzles, which reward you with an item to bring to a certain location. Completing all 3 puzzles makes the owner of that dream fully pass on, and completing all 4 of the victim's dreams unlocks access to Claire's healing chamber.
  • Scenery Porn: The ship is ripe with Art Deco designs, and the dream worlds are remarkably intricate in detail.
  • Schizo Tech: Herculania is run by both solar and uranium power.
  • Shell Game: Leo loses some cash when Billy challenges him to a shell game, played with cards. He planned to challenge Billy to a boxing match because of this loss.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: In the ship's lounge, Grace Thermon criticizes Billy for smoking and orders him to put his cigar out. He blows smoke in her face in response.
  • Snake Charmer: You have to be this to a cobra in Belle's dream world, in a puzzle that involves choosing the right instrument out of several others. It also results in some rather nice music.
  • Spectacular Spinning: One puzzle is solved by continuously spinning in the middle of a drum circle until your character gets dizzy.
  • Voiceover Letter: Every journal or document in the game is narrated by the person who wrote them.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In one scene, Billy gets seasick and pukes into a toilet - and keeps dragging on his cigar while he's at it, but the camera angle and bluescreen overlay show no actual puke taking place.